The Easter Vigil

My Easter Vigil begins on Saturday morning. Now, the traditional Vigil service occurs sometime after sunset on Saturday and before dawn on Easter Sunday. It is a service of great remembrance. The scriptures start in Genesis, trace a long path to the Jewish Passover, and end with the Gospel Resurrection Story. The “Alleluia’s” ring out, silenced since the beginning of Lent.

My Easter vigil begins with a check-off list and an assembly of cooking ingredients. In years past, I was preparing for an Easter brunch of thirty-five, a beloved event for friends, neighbors, and family. Now that we do not have accommodations for such a large table-gathering—and this family has grown—the guest list is diminished to fourteen. The preparations are still large.

We’ll begin with mimosas, shrimp salad tarts, and vegetables. The dip for the crudités will rest in the belly of a bunny fashioned by Grandma from puff pastry. She’s been longing to assemble this rabbit ever since she saw it in Woman’s Day. And then we’ll sit down to ham, macaroni and cheese, asparagus, green salad with strawberries, and yeast rolls. Vicky chose the dessert, strawberry cake with cream cheese frosting, and we’ll have some brownies on hand for the chocolate-lovers.

In some way, I will touch every menu item today, even if only to lay the foundation for tomorrow’s baking, chilling, or assembly.

Easter has been my favorite holiday for most of my adult life. In Easter there is great remembrance of suffering and ultimate victory over Death—for all. There is a recollection of “the paths we’ve trod”, the storms we’ve weathered, the pain we’ve conquered—all of us. There is this notion that we are all together on level ground, equally guilty, but identically redeemed. We are one people, not because we make some conscious decision for acceptance, but because we stand before this awakening, blooming creation as co-targets of the same Love.

Yesterday afternoon, I made the annual Easter trip to the discount store to purchase ingredients for cake, dips, and cleaning. My buggy was loaded, way too stacked for that woman with the little pricing gun to “pre-checkout”. She told me so. But the Pakistani baby in the cart ahead told me “I’m two” and his father and I talked of sons, cooking, and standing in lines.

“I am already pre-checked,” he said. “Let me put your items on the belt for you.”

He emptied my cart, and when I thanked him, he answered, “This is your holiest season, isn’t it?”

“Yes,” I said, “It is.”

“And today is the ‘Good Friday’?”

“Well, yes…Good Friday.”

“I wish you a blessed holy day today, and a most wonderful holy feast…”

Happy Easter, dear friends. Let the vigil begin.

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